Essay Example on A Material Semiotic Approach to Psychoanalysis and Environmental Justice

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Reconfiguring Nature A Material Semiotic Approach to Psychoanalysis and Environmental Justice A paralysis in the proliferation of viable material and ideological mutations in subjectivity is at the root of the ecological and epistemological crises affecting the West since the Romantic period In particular the subject positions of and structural relationships between the feminized other and masculine subject under late capitalist patriarchy map onto other categories such as class race and the more than human world and shape the production of knowledge about biological life Alongside genes people's ideas actions values habits and beliefs pass between generations and reconstruct the life cycles and the style of subjectivity In societies thus politically stratified the activities and ideas about nature of those in dominate social situations organize and limit the apprehension of self others and world to the gendered relations between master and slave desiring invasive subject and consumable predictable object Particular iterations of the embodied mind as individual selves reproduce over time via interpersonal and supra individual forces have extended scientific discourses and technologies as congealed static forms of sociopolitical interactions of control and exploitation In sum culture shapes nature and natural systems are more plastic than assumed

This plastic materiality also implies that environmental signals can stimulate diverse phenotypic and behavioral outcomes from a constant genotype which molds new lifeforms to their circumstances in both pathological and beneficial ways Goldstein 70 Overall the scientific cultures of reductionism preformation and genetic determinism have for too long sketched the subjectivities of nature as wholly self sufficient and self developing closed mechanistic automata inside a universe of phenomena of predictable and controllable natural laws The concept of pre scripted biologies composed merely of inherited code nurture impoverished limited subjectivities and sociopolitical systems Broadly this project proposes that the poetics of the science of epigenetics its logic lexicon genre aesthetic and imaginary are attractive for refiguring the manufacture of subjectivity in Romantic literature and modern science fiction Ultimately epigenetics which hypothesizes that environmental interaction and learning directly act on the formation and metamorphosis of living beings provides a framework for developmental and object relations psychoanalytic theory to understand and intervene in the myriad natural forces and complex social factors that form the emerging human self rather than describe human behavior as merely thwarted and repressed gene derived instinctual desire Narratives about the ontogenesis of subjectivity matter 



Today’s environmental crises that disproportionately impact women ethnic minorities and indigenous people due in part to colonial histories of resource extraction biological patents and human induced climate change stem from conceptual reductions of nature born of the psychosocial mechanisms that produce value hierarchical gender roles Donna Haraway 1991 Val Plumwood 1992 and Jessica Benjamin 1998 2018 among others see the longue durée of this binary conceptual framework and logic as ultimately responsible for our most serious ecological and biopsychosocial dislocations These social and environmental injustices are brought forth by subjectivities born of and endorsed by Western philosophies and socialization processes that equate knowledge and power science as a technology of power created to capture Truth and Resource Infinity via a methodology of feminine repudiation and transcendence of the limitations of the senses and animal body Therefore thinking alongside Romantic and science fiction my project attempts to articulate its psycho social material biosemiotics as a historical hermeneutic as an explanatory mechanism highlighting the way our natural bodies are archives for past and present circumstance including particular epistemic orientations and are susceptible to incorporating the material relations of their multilevel milieu Goldstein 40 In order to better formulate strategies for social and environmental justice it is important to realize that language and law are not merely imposed upon bodily life Rather approaching justice should involve a spatiotemporal cartography that traces the natural history at the scale of the deep time of species evolution and the more shallow times of community formation and individual development as well as at the micro instant snapshot of a cross section of a momentarily experienced sensation or desire or utterance of how individuals become by acting within an assemblage of other human and non human agents and forces that are themselves composed of myriad assemblages

These maps of psychosocial material semiotic becoming will not only extend the dystopian vision and reach of capitalism s sociotechnical machines thus reproducing the despairingly dizzy feeling of present entrapment within its self perpetuating and self devouring pluralism Indeed the illuminating dye flowing through the nodes and networks of industrial capitalism and its climate changed terrain will reveal future possibilities and potentialities for existential horizons antithetical to its structures of power and meaning How are subjectivities and their regulatory regimes dependent on transitions in epistemological paradigms and their understandings of nature In reducing the creativity and value of nature these Cartesian and dehumanizing sciences respectively have resulted in social injustices i e gender oppositions class antagonisms and ethnic dominations and our contemporary environmental crises such as mass species extinctions and deforestation alongside expanding agribusiness and are the products of psychosocial developmental mechanisms under a capitalist system that is thoroughly patriarchal My work asks what other developmental methods and modes of subjectivization and knowledge production might we build out of this wreckage other than Cartesian individualism s reductionism or the anonymous swarm s transformation of nature into networks of enslaved production How does Romantic science fiction employ an epigenetic poetics in order to trace a more accurate and emancipatory politics of subjectivity and environment


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